Friday, August 9, 2019

the last book I ever read (Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert A. Caro, excerpt nine)

from Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing by Robert A. Caro:

Moreover, as I learned, Alice’s feelings toward Lyndon provide insight into certain aspects of his career. She fell in love with him, her sister and her best friend (and Posh Oltorf and others) told me, because, deeply idealistic herself, she was entranced by his stories, told over the dinner table and around the swimming pool at Longlea, of how hard life in the Hill Country was, and how he was getting the dams built and the electricity brought to make that life easier; she considered Lyndon an idealist, too, an idealist who knew how to get things done; “she thought,” Mary Louise told me, “he was a young man who was going to save the world.” But that concept endured only until he invited her out to the West Coast in 1942, when she became disillusioned by what I called “the contrast between Johnson’s activities and the fact that he was supposed to be in a combat zone”; Posh showed me (and gave me a copy of) a letter she had written him in later years jokingly suggesting they write a book together on the true Lyndon Johnson: “I can write a very illuminating chapter on his military career in Los Angeles, with photographs, letters from voice teachers, and photographers.” The passion eventually faded from the relationship, although perhaps not completely; Alice married Charles Marsh, but divorced him, and married, and divorced, several times after that; “she never got over Lyndon,” Alice Hopkins said. Even when he was a senator, and vice president, he would drive down to Longlea to see her. But, Posh told me, Vietnam was too much for her; she had told him, Posh said, that she had burned love letters Johnson had written her, because she was ashamed of her friendship with the man she regarded as responsible for the escalation of the war.

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